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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Another disturbing story

Yesterday's Seattle Times included another story about sex crime against a child in a Seattle Public School.

The accused is an instructional aide at Aki Kurose. The story in the Times is a bit sketchy on the timeline. The activity has alledgedly taken place over the past two years. A student witnessed it, took cellphone pictures of it, and told his mother about it. Two mothers of other students also told the police that they witnessed inappropriate touching. They say that they reported it to "a school official". It is unclear from the Times article who reported it to the police. It is also unclear from the article when it was reported to the police, but the article does say that the accused was placed on administrative leave when the police began their investigation earlier this year.

Although charges were filed yesterday and an arrest warrant issued, the accused was not arrested because he is out of the country. In fact, the police have yet to speak with him.

So what was the timeline of events here? How long have the police been investigating this alledged crime without interviewing the suspect? Who saw what and when did they report it and to whom did they report it? Why is charged with only two counts of child molestation if the activity has been happening over the course of two years?

Aki Kurose, you'll recall, is the school that delayed reporting allegations of an on-campus rape to the police for a day because they couldn't get through on the non-emergency number. In that case the police were out to the school as soon as they got the call. The police action appears much less prompt in this case, but it is unclear how promptly the school took appropriate action - if at all. Did the "school official" call the police or did someone else? Did they use the non-emergency line?

12 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

The story in the P-I reveals a bit more.

In the P-I story it seems that the District learned about the investigation from the police. That makes it hard to believe that anyone in the school or the District reported the situation to the police.

From the P-I story:
"Seattle Public Schools spokesman David Tucker said Urrutia was pulled from the classroom and placed on paid administrative leave earlier this year as soon as police disclosed the criminal investigation." If the cops told the school about it, then I have to wonder if the school told the cops about it.

If the guy was put on administrative leave AFTER the police investigation began, then the school district didn't put him on administrative leave before that. So someone at the school knew there was this problem but they didn't keep the guy away from the kids until the police launched their investigation. Is that a union thing? The school administrators can get reports that the guy is dry humping an 11-year-old but they allow him to go back into the classroom until the police notify the district that he is the subject of an investigation? Is that the procedure? How exactly does this work?

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

It would be interesting to find out how many teachers were placed on Administrative leave during the last year and how long they were on such leave and why.

It seems that in some cases this is used to punish political dissidents.

I hear stories of teachers on leave for over a year and never getting a hearing.

I personally know of a teacher put on leave and no hearing occurring for over 6 months.

WOW... why does this happen?

Fake union is one explanation, incompetent administration is another.

Your thoughts please.

Charlie Mas said...

Nearly all of the details of the teachers' contract is outside my knowledge, my expertise, and my understanding.

I know that the contract is often claimed as the reason for things that seem entirely unreasonable. For example "We can't do that, the teacher contract doesn't allow it."

I know that the District staff sometimes speak of it as if it were carved in stone and could not be changed, as if it were not negotiated every few years. There doesn't seem to be any process for submitting suggested changes to the contract.

There are a lot of excellent reasons to support a strong teachers' union. There are a lot of reasons to grant teachers academic freedom. There are a lot of excellent reasons that labor interactions need to be highly regulated. There is little or no reason for some of the stuff done in the name of the contract.

LMM said...

We need to say stop to SPS and to the Teacher's union- it that is really the case- re contract restrictions. These children are getting harmed- in school! If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. I am very upset with SPS in general and the ability to not keep children safe is wrong. I want real change for Seattle's schools- it will take all of the residence of this town to demand the change. I think we need to get the City Counsel/WA State more involved to pressure SPS to make the changes that are needed.

dan dempsey said...

I really question the teachers contract as being anything but an excuse for SPS administration.

The SEA is an incredibly weak union. They appear to be an arm of SPS administration in many cases.

The idea that the union contract is in any way a contributing factor, in what appears to be just another example of administrative negligence is very remote.

speducator said...

Hold on for a second! I'm a teacher, and no great defender of the union, but how did the union get blamed for this?

I recall that in the Whitman situation, several teachers went to the principal and tried several times to talk to people downtown, only to be blown off.

In this case, the male teacher was molesting girls for years, and administrators were covering. What finally blew his cover was a mother walked in her daughter's classroom and saw the guy with his hand on her daughter's buttocks.

There were several principals involved in suppressing information. What happened to them?

And what about Robert Gary, the principal at Rainier Beach? Why weren't the police called immediately when the developmentally disabled girl was raped in the bathroom?

Every school employee in the district is a mandatory reporter. I personally don't trust the district anymore to turn in sex offenders. I will go directly to the police, and I believe that most of my colleagues will do the same. District Administrators do not want any P.R. problems about their programs or their schools. Why would they release something unless they absolutely have to?

It's part of a bigger problem. The Seattle School District has trouble being forthcoming with the public and with stakeholder engagement. These kinds of issues keep popping up...better to take them on immediately and get them out in the open.

dan dempsey said...

I challenge anyone to put forth language in the SEA union contact that would as Marlene says discourage anyone from reporting immediately sexual abuse of minors.

Where is the idea that there is union contract language about making it difficult for the SPS to act in such a way coming from?
As Marlene says do not tell administration call the police.

The SPS does not even follow their own school board policies often choosing to do whatever they please. Sure looks like SPS once again choosing to do anything they please. ..... Get caught blame someone else.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay. So let's presume that the teachers' contract would not have precluded the District from putting Mr. Urrutia on adminstrative leave before the police announced their investigation. Why, then, would they wait for that?

I find it very difficult to believe that a school administrator could get a credible report that that an instructional aide was molesting students and NOT bar that aide from the classroom. And it was a credible report - not only did the police find it credible, but it included photographic evidence.

So who was the school administrator who did not immediately bar Mr. Urrutia from public school classrooms immediately upon receiving the report of abuse? What steps DID that administrator take? How can that person justify their inaction? How will their performance in this episode impact their career at Seattle Public Schools?

Let's be VERY clear. Given photographic evidence of abuse, there is no grey area - this is a mandatory report.

hschinske said...

There's a little more info at http://rainiervalleypost.blogspot.com/2008/07/two-more-students-report-being-sexually.html.

Is this the same Sergio Urrutia who was nominated for a Jefferson Award a few years ago?

Helen Schinske

dan dempsey said...

Helen,

Thanks for the link. I could not get it to work initially. If others have the same problem then try this one.
Click HERE

Jet City mom said...

Why- is safety of children not paramount to every employee of this district?

This of course is the same Robert Gary, who suspended two boys who were involved in the rape of a student on campus in June 2007.

The school apparently did their own investigation- ( by whom?), however did not contact police. When the girl, who happened to be developmentally challenged, contacted the police several weeks later who then began their investigation-

( and apparently at least one of the young men was found guilty, because he was still in jail 6 months later), only then did Dr Gary, suspend the suspects for three days- after school was released for the year.


Because of a page-makeup error-from Wednesday, September 20, 1995, some editions of yesterday's Times did not have this story.

Seattle School District administrator Robert Gary, a prime figure in the district's investigation of the hiring of Clint Webb, who was subsequently charged with child rape, has been placed on administrative leave.

Ricardo Cruz, district human-services director, said Monday that Gary has been on leave since Sept. 1.

Gary's name came up repeatedly in the district's investigation of how Webb, who had an extensive criminal record, was kept on the staff.

Webb, 39, of Renton, was charged last month with statutory rape of a 14-year-old girl at Meany Middle School. Webb's former roommate, Charles E. McGray, 34, has been charged with third-degree child rape of the same girl.

Gary, a second cousin to Webb's former wife, first hired Webb in 1976 when Gary was principal of South Shore Middle School.

Webb quit in fall 1976, was convicted of manslaughter in 1980 and was rehired by the district in 1985 after serving time for the offense.

The investigation showed that Webb was rehired at South Shore by Gary, who was then the district's executive director of secondary

education.


My daughter who is a camp counselor, knows that she is a mandated reporter- I can't get past the realization that anyone employed in the district does not realize their paramount duty to children, to report concerns to police- the district does not have the tools to investigate children's safety.


My daughter has apparently heard talk that her former principal is going to be reassigned. While I think he is one of the strongest principals in the district- it is unfortunate that the district is constantly moving people around.
Putting harmful or ineffective employees in less visible positions, but shifting dedicated leaders to schools which have long troubled histories but not giving them the supports they need to be successful.
( which includes a community that puts their time where their mouth is)

Last year two parents attended the Sept PTA meeting at Rainier Beach. Two parents, two administrators, a staffer and spouse.
( according to the 9/19/07 edition of Rainier Valley Post)

Think the district throwing money at the school is going to change that?

written policy at Broadview tells teachers to report inhouse-
Since that is contrary to the legal requirement- I am curious what the unions position is on that.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/2715320/BES-et-al-v-Seattle-School-District-No-1-et-al-Document-No-104

speducator said...

To class of 75,
Gawd, I'd almost forgotten about Clint Webb, who by the way worked with Al Jones at Garfield.

I can only assume that Robert Gary, Jr., the principal at RB is Robert Gary's son? The Robert Gary who hired Clint Webb? It's getting curioser and curioser!